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Health tips for winter

  • The flu vaccine: This is recommended especially if you are HIV positive. The new flu vaccine is out and available at your chemist or GP.
  • HIV screening and CD4 check: If you don’t know your status is or if you are uncertain of your CD4 count (white blood cells responsible for your immune system), get it done before the coming winter so you can plan before the flu season kicks in.
  • Your immune system: Keep your immune system in top notch condition. Make sure your grocery bag is full of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A, C and E (think carrots, oranges, grapefruits and dark leafy vegetables) to ensure your body has a steady flow of ammunition to fight infection. If you are HIV positive remember that so-called vitamins and other supplements are not really "immune boosters" as they do not boost the immune system – the only proven therapy that does in HIV is anti-retroviral medication.  It is however useful to try and maintain a balanced diet with vitamin supplements if there is evidence of dietary deficiency.
  • TB screening: If you have a chronic cough and show signs of weight loss, get screened for TB (tuberculosis). Ask your doctor about IPT (Isoniazid Preventive Therapy) if you are HIV positive. It is also important to learn about cough etiquette and to have proper ventilation in a household where someone has TB.
  • Grab a shut eye: Haven’t you wondered why your eyes refuse to open during winters? Due to longer nights, you tend to sleep more. Don’t fret about it and enjoy the extra napping time that you get, guilt free!
  • Get outdoors: Even though it may be tempting to sit inside the warmth of your house, it’s important that you get some sunshine whenever possible. It’s possible to get depressed if you don’t get enough sunshine. In medical lingo, it’s known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). So step out and soak up the rays when you can.
  • Watch what you eat and drink: Winters are also a time when many people buy themselves a one way ticket to weight gain by reaching for deep fried snacks and hot beverages. It’s important to remember cream based soups and cream laden caffeine drinks aren’t healthy.
  • Stay active: Lethargy affects everyone during the winters. Getting out into the cold weather for your jog or cycling may seem impossible but try and squeeze in a little bit of activity into your winter schedule. Remember to warm up as your muscles are tighter during winters making them more prone to injury.
  • Keep infections from spreading: Wash your hands regularly to keep infections from spreading. Even though this is health tip for all seasons, it’s doubly true during winters when infections and viruses seem to be at their worst.
  • Stay warm: Cover up if you are feeling cold. Don’t wait till your fingers have frozen or your feet have numbed. Wear socks, gloves, scarves, anything to make sure your body is comfortable.
  • Show your skin some TLC: Your skin probably is the worst affected during winters. Lack of moisture in the air and in your body leaves it dry and flaky. Show it some love and affection, use a deep nourishing cream to ensure your skin stays healthy.
  • Be heart healthy: Winter is notoriously associated with a rise in heart attacks. The reason for this is still much debated, but the fact remains. So if you are a heart patient, watch what you eat, exercise moderately and head to a hospital if you feel some discomfort.  

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